Tuesday, March 9, 2010

on Thinking the Synopsis Was the Problem When Really it Was the Story or: Bad Story

I spent the better part of yesterday working on a synopsis for a manuscript I finished a month ago. I’ve been working on the synopsis on and off for that interim period, wondering why in the name of all that is Holy I couldn’t get an excellent summary of the characters, plot points and themes of the novel down in two (double-spaced, so really ONE) pages while including some echo of the voice of the book.

I Googled the crap out of synopsis-writing, actually read some of the suggestions, but mostly slogging about in forums reading other writers’ posts about how they:
1. Are having the same, exact problem!
2. Can’t believe how idiotic the agents specifying the brevity of the synopsis were!
c. Will not possibly be able to boil their excellent or very good or exceedingly complicated novels down to this length!

It occurred to me about two weeks ago that my manuscript had some serious plot shortcomings and that one of the main characters was exceedingly weak (one of those guys who is strong and complicated in my mind but somehow comes up flat and lifeless on paper). I beefed up a subplot, clarified a thing or two which I had left intentionally though pointlessly vague, and corrected a weird chapter sequencing thing that I stumbled across. Thus, the problem of writing the synopsis was solved. It was never a problem with the synopsis. It was a problem with the story.

That may not be the problem that other writers are having getting their synopses done, but it might not hurt to take another look.

Special (unsolicited) thanks to Knight Agency agent Nephele Tempest for this blog post which helped me to figure out where I was going wrong.

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